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Modern milkman, entrepreneur Henk van der Merwe uses traditions to empower local farmers

The Stellenbosch-born entrepreneur thought of the business idea while he was driving past the local dairy shop. Picture: File

The Stellenbosch-born entrepreneur thought of the business idea while he was driving past the local dairy shop. Picture: File

Published Jun 28, 2022

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Durban - Henk van der Merwe, 25, discovered his purpose in delivering fresh supplies such as bread, milk and eggs from local farmers to communities, through Lekke Fresh, an online service delivery that sources fresh produce from local farmers to consumers.

The Stellenbosch-born entrepreneur thought of the business idea while he was driving past the local dairy shop.

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Van der Merwe approached a local farmer and asked if he could get milk supplies. Surprisingly, his request was accepted.

“The first four people whose doors I knocked on said yes! And for me that was big. I thought if four people said yes, they would like to support local entrepreneurship ... this could be something,” he said.

Through this, Lekke Fresh rocketed, and Van der Merwe won the crown of the Idea Smash competition held by Stellenbosch University, and the 2019 Stellenbosch University Start-Up of the Year title.

However, the road has not been smooth.

“Entrepreneurship is a challenge when you are young. I found that most people tended to not believe in my ability to deliver my promises because of my age.

“Older people hesitated to do business with me. But this did not discourage me, hence I always encourage young people to start doing business when they’re still young because even if they make mistakes, they still have a lot to fall back on, and ample time to learn from their mistakes as well.”

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The business receives fresh produce from local farmers and then works with students to run the weekly deliveries in Stellenbosch, Durbanville, Paarl, Gordon’s Bay and surrounding areas.

“We’re purely online, but we have done over R7 million of sales just through bread, milk and eggs online. This is a testament that through technology, it’s possible for a small entrepreneur like me to compete with bigger businesses,” he said.

Van der Merwe added that his plans were to empower students and local entrepreneurs to use this model and implement it in other cities.

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